Today I’m going to be reviewing a newly released album entitled “Fixing the World” by singer/songwriter Yisroel Juskowitz. I’ve been privileged to play live with Yisroel on a number of occasions and I can tell you that he is truly a talented musician and a real mentsch as well. After thoroughly enjoying his first album “The Narrow Bridge” I’ve been waiting to finally hear his 2nd album. Now that I’ve spent more than enough time listening to it, here’s my review:
- Hodu Lashem – This song composed by Yisroel features background vocals by Shlomo Katz. Throughout this album you’ll notice that Yisroel connected with many other singers whose vocals enhanced his album. Although many albums will start with a “bang” this song is a great opener and while easy to listen to, as the track progresses you can feel the energy rise with the tempo.
- Nachamu Ami – Earlier in August this next song was released as a single. This song features backing vocals by Aryeh Kunstler. Although you may have heard Aryeh rocking out before, don’t underestimate his ability to enhance a soft track like this with his vocals. While many songs nowadays are a posuk or tefilla set to a pre-composed melody, I feel that this composition really fits the words being sung
- Ufros Aleinu – While it’s hard to pick a favorite Carlebach song, this is definitely one of my many favorites.
- Kol Yisroel – This next song was also composed by Yisroel (Yeah, I’ll be writing that quite a few times in this review). This composition fits nicely with many of Yisroel’s other songs like “Esa Einei” from his first album. I find that Yisroel’s compositions aren’t geared towards pulling in people with shtick and musically complicated arrangements but rather to catch the attention of the listener through he message he is transmitting through the composed melody.
- Yom Zeh Mechubad – If you’re bored of the same old Zemiros you’ve been singing for years this may be exactly what you need! Yisroel writes in the CD booklet that he composed this song after being told on Shabbos by a friend that there hadn’t been too many new Zemiros composed in the last few years so he decided to change that.
- Yedid Nefesh – This next song is an old Modzitz nigun. This album gives it a great arrangement with some harmonies by Noah Solomon and features whistling by Eitan Katz (add that to the list of Eitan’s musical abilities!)
- Ata Echad – After the last track which was fairly calm, get ready because this next track will get you moving! This song features backing vocals by Aryeh Kunstler and some superb violin playing by Jeremy Brown.
- Kel Adon – This next track features piano and backing vocals by Nochi Krohn. Being a huge fan of Nochi’s voice I’m very happy that Yisroel picked him to be featured on this track. This is a real “easy-listening” track and you’ll find yourself relaxing while listening to this gorgeous arrangement.
- Shabbat Shalom – Funny enough, I remember hearing this song as a child so this track is pretty nostalgic for me. Aryeh Kunstler makes an appearance on this track as well.
- Gam Ki Elech – Yisroel writes in the CD booklet that he wrote this song after hearing about the tragic passing of Leiby Kletzky A”H. This track features backing vocals by Noah Solomon.
- Nigun Hisorirus – This next track is an inspiring nigun composed by Yisroel with backing vocals by Aryeh Kunstler. Expounding a bit on what I wrote earlier in this review, in the case of songs with words but even here where the nigun is just a sung melody there is something to say for songs that appeal to listeners through the melody itself and not because of complex arrangements or vocal shtick. This is just a great song plain and simple.
- Litaken Olam – This final song is the title track of the album. Yisroel dedicates this song to the Chabad shluchim all over the world working their hardest to make the world a better place and literally “Fixing the World”. Along the same lines, Yisroel writes in the CD booklet that he is doing his best to help fix the world as well, one song at a time.
If you’re looking for the latest hit songs that will be played at Simcha’s or the vocalist who can pull off the most shtick within a song this may not be the album for you. However, if you appreciate good compositions and good music and enjoy music that not only touches the ears but the heart, then you’ll want to get a copy for yourself! This album is available at your local Judaica store as well www.MostlyMusic.com, and many other online music retailers.
-For those interested in a sample, Yisroel is now offering a free download of “Hodu Lashem” on his website www.YisroelWorld.com-